tv Senator Tim Kaine Discusses His Life and Career CSPAN July 23, 2016 11:20am-12:01pm EDT
hall, -- st. paul, so they moved back to kansas city. went to mizzou. went to harvard law school. i met this you to vote virginia and, and then on we were looking for places i learned what a shet negotiator she was and has continued to best me at every negotiation cents. steve: let's talk about growing up in kansas city. the oldest of three boys? yes, steve is a pediatric cardiologist who operates on the hearts of newborn babies through catheters. i have a hardnk job, i think about my mother steve. then my brother has a company that focuses on selling commercial aircraft. i am the one that got away. my parents are 81 and still
alive and my brothers live very close to them. they do like visiting virginia. i try to get back to the midwest. i read that you worked at your dad's weld shop? iron shop? what was that? senator kaine: it was largely a shop that would make things -- you know, bicycle frames, ornamental iron work balconies, can a levers, dress racks you would buy a dress off of in a retail store, and the classic midwestern manufacturing business, up early to get work done before it got hot. my dad was a great business guy. he taught us that his business acumen would put his workers' kids through school. ironwere organized
workers. they put my brothers and me through school. . steve: what did you learn about ironworks? senator kaine: i learned enough that years later when i was at harvard law school, i took a year off to work with missionaries in honduras. i landed there, taking a year of school without knowing what i would do. they said, harvard law school, that has precisely zero relevance in anything we are doing. didn't your dad do something in the trades? i told them, and they said, ok, you will run our vocational school. i trained kids to be carpenters and welders. i find raised for it. that success followed me when i went back to law school.
i added that into the curriculum of welding act in 1980, and 1981, which i am really fortunate i was able to do. steve: what were you like in high school? senator kaine: i think i was rdly student. i think the best education is going to be self-education. i was also really active in the student government. i was a cheerleader on the basketball and football team. notalled them yellleaders, cheerleaders. i remember is taking
off intellectually. it was a jesuit high school and the jazz would order of the catholic church has a twin tradition -- the jesuit order of the capital church as a twin intellectual rigor and they teach you to measure the effect of your life by the effect on other people's lives, and that service plus the intellectual rigors was great. my high school life was fantastic. my parents were irish catholics. we would go to mass on sunday. if we got back from vacation at 7:30 p.m., on a sunday, they would know the one church that 5 mass we could go to.
but my parents did not talk that much about their faith. it was more, preach the gospel. they did not talk about it a lot. high school was the first place we started to do a lot of talking about faith and spirituality. that put me in the mode where it was not enough to accept what i had been taught, but i wanted to find my own answers. that led me to take the year off and go to honduras. lead me.continued to i would say that was a key part to my transition into adult life where in set of accepting the answers of my parents or others, i have been a person who wanted to go out and find answers on my own, and the jesuits get credit for that. view: how does tim kaine
his spiritual life today? senator kaine: i feel like whatever i am doing, i haven't inner dialogue going, that is a spiritual dialogue. what is the broader significance of this interview? what is the broader significance of a boat i am taking? what is the broader significance of something i am doing with my wife? i am thinking about the momentary reality, but the way it can switch the bigger matters of what is important in life. and so, i try to approach my job that way. and be upfront with people about it -- not because i want anybody else to be me. i'm not trying to convince you to do what i do, but i feel like sharing my motivation with others is a good thing and i others will that share their motivations with me and that is how i can learn to be better at what i do and better as a person.
spiritual phrase that i use, which is a wonderful phrase written by george fox, who founded the quakers, the words, itnd in 11 conveys a spiritual philosophy for me. while cheerfully over the earth answering that of god and everyone. -- walk cheerfully over the earth, answering that of god in everyone. be cheerful. why the grim? why be burden? get outside. go abroad into new places answering -- you can't answer if you don't listen. youhave to listen before can answer that of god, the divine spark and each person. there is a divine spark in each person. that is the discipline, what i do as a person, what i do as a public official. we will get to honduras, but let's start out with
college. you were in journalism? i did. kaine: yeah, i came of age during watergate and crusading journalist made -- crusading journalists made an impression on me. i will tell a joke about your profession, but it's ultimately a joke about me. i went to mizzou to read everyone there was a prospective journalist was too cynical. i was like, i cannot believe how cynical they are. , i willg out with them not be fit to live with. ical went into the uncync professions of law. steve: what did you go into law? a greatkaine: i had
gpa, i did great on my law school boards, and i remember going to talk to my advisor in the economics department, talking about going to law school and he said, actually, have you thought about trying to go to harvard or yale or stanford? with your scores, you could go anywhere. that thought had never occurred to me. so i applied to a bunch of schools. i got into harvard. i had never set foot on campus. it's a bit of a culture shock going from the midwest where i .pent my life i met my wife there. that was worth triple the tuition for the entire three years and it was also an amazing experience, intellectually, but also making friends for life. steve: you talked about honduras. you are in law school for one year. you decided to take a break. what did you do?
senator kaine: i had gone through college in three years. ted at harvard, i might've been the youngest person in my class of 150 people. all these people i met had worked as journalists. they are troubling world. our member thinking -- why am i rushing? life is long. why am i rushing? what i wantedknow to do with my life. i thought, gosh, what if i took time off and tried to figure it out? went to had al i connection with the jesuit mission in honduras and i had been what's in high school and 1974. this was now 1980. i started thinking, is there something i can do to take a decideay and learn and on a path?
when i was in honduras, i thought, maybe i can come back and volunteer one day. i decided to write one of them out of the blue and said, can i volunteer? i got a letter back that said yes. i marched into the dean's office and said i want to take a year off. i remember there reaction was -- they checkion was -- to see if there were financial reasons. then they checked my grades. all right, he is not flunking out. they had not confronted that. did not seem like they had many people asking to do it. i needed to step away from the treadmill obit to figure out what i wanted to do with my life and i felt like going to honduras to spend the year helping, but more importantly learning. that would help me make better decisions about my future. it was all that and much, much more. steve: and this picture? senator kaine: i was there in
1981 and i worked with these great jesuit missionaries. some were spaniards, some were americans, some were hondurans. really did back, it put me on a path and my wife and i have continued to be very school everf the since. we went back for our 20th wedding anniversary in 2004. my wife said, hey, we have been supporting the mission, but i have never been, let's go. ins picture is ash wednesday 2015. i asked john cornyn, senator cornyn from texas, president obama was to make a big investment in central america to deal with this problem of the unaccompanied minors. honduras is at the epicenter of it. i like john a lot. i said, why don't we go try to learn what we can about this
problem? you said, come to mexico to talk about energy reform and i will come with you to honduras to learn about honduras and this issue. we went to mass at the main parish and these central square, and unbeknownst to me, we let them know we were coming, but they reached out to all of the jesuits who had been there when i was there and ask them to celebrate mass. the center -- she had been my roommate for a while and he was now a parish priest and guatemala -- he had been my roommate for a while and he was now a parish priest in guatemala. he came back from guatemala and -- in in serio vote sarajevo. they were part of the jesuit community. they were young, vigorous 40-year-olds, and now they are vigorous 65-year-old, 70-year-olds. they were doing great work. they were coming up the procession during ash wednesday.
i saw them and said, i think i know those guys. it was a very, very moving experience. we went to mass. we went back and visited the school. about 60ft it was kids. now it is about 400 kids. then we went out to the graveyard on the hill above town where a lot of our friends are buried and we had a little prayer service in their memory, these great colleagues, spaniards and americans who had spent their whole lives serving people and were buried in l progresso and it was a very special, special visit. when you were there in the early 80's, what did you learn about honduras and what did you learn about america? senator kaine: boy, this will be an hour and a half. honduras is the second poorest the central america's next to haiti when i was there. what i learned was happiness is not correlated with well.
-- with wealth. happiness is correlated with our personare you a giving or not? i met extremely destitute people that were happy. i have since met wealthy people that are not happy. i learned that happiness is spread around the human condition. i learned from them about the and diversity. i learned about -- i was getting a little bit tired of the catholic worship i was used to, which was big suburban parish, .5 minute mass it was so vibrant and chaotic and fun. i learned a lot from them, especially how a strong spiritual life can help you deal with the challenges we all face aboute. at what i learned
our country also was i don't think you can fully understand your own culture until you step outside of it. you take things for granted. you think everybody lives that way. honduras was a military dictatorship. no rule of law. the jesuits i worked with were persona non grata with the military because they were trying to help poor people. i was living in a country where they could vote for anything. but voting turnout was low. it really made a believer in me about our system, that the rule theaw is a lot better than rule of law around the world, but if you are in a society that gives you the privilege to participate, you have to take advantage of it.
they moved over to having democratic elections and the pictures of my friends waiting smiles oneople with their faces, they were waiting to participate. you could see them. it really taught me about things we take for granted here, physical things we take for granted. having a government that is a rule of law, not a dictator, and having the opportunity as a regular person to participate and choose your leaders, that was a very transformative lesson to me about our own culture. and it shaped my civic engagement when i got back. steve: when you came back, how did you meet your wife? aretor kaine: my wife and i the same age. for three weeks a year, she is older than me and i lorded over her. i started law school a year ahead.
i took a year off. came back. we both were involved in a clinical activity at harvard law school where they would send law students to go do hearings in the prison system, disciplinary hearings, parole advocation. it was a way to provide help, but also test yourself on your feet if you were going to be a courtroom lawyer later. way she describes it, she was told, we think this guy is going to come back, can you make in effort to convince him to come back? she claims she was trying to convince me to pay attention to her and we were in classes together and she made chocolate chip cookies once for a study group and her side of the story is, from the day of those first chocolate or cookies, i was a complete goner. i do not remember the chocolate chip cookies, but i remember her
very well. we started dating and have been together ever since. november. years this she is my public service hero. she has been a legal aid lawyer. when i was governor, she helped me reform the foster care system of virginia. is secretary of education in virginia. she is a public servant and wife and mother and daughter and juggles all of those roles and makes it seem easy. which it is not, but she makes it seem easy. personissue the second to not only be the daughter of a governor, but first lady? senator kaine: she is the second. thomas jefferson's daughter was later the wife of a governor. but my wife is the only person to live in the governor's mansion as a child and then as an adult.
because the governor's mansion did not get built in virginia jefferson. a special memory, we are sworn in, go back to the governor's mansion, it's 1:00 in the morning. we walk in, the staff is in there, and they say to me, welcome home, governor. and they say to my wife, welcome back home. because she was coming back after being gone for 35 years. she had told all of the kids about the tricks they used to never thinking my kids would have the opportunity to use those stories. she wishes she had not told them about the dumbwaiter and things like that. one of the things that was so special was being able to be back in what had been for four years or girlhood home and to have her parents, who had been really transformative leaders at a difficult time in virginia
able also to come back and share that experience with us. it was pretty remarkable. what is your father-in-law like? how influential has he been in your career? my father-in-law -- i have no hesitation in saying that he is my political hero. he came back from being a submariner in world war ii and 8% of thec, and virginia electorate participated in the election. why? it was a one-party machine. party,the democratic using poll taxes, doing everything else to keep everyone from which is abating. foraid i have been fighting democracy in the pacific. i am in a one-party state. i will try to build up a competitive party in virginia. he built up a progressive alternative to the segregationist democrats. he ran for the house of
delegates twice and lost. he won for governor and lost, all the while building the party. when he ran for governor, the naacp supported him. after all of the democratic governors who preceded him had fought like hell to keep brown versus board from being implemented, he integrated the schools and he did it as an act of courage, an act of principle, in he was basically electoral politics. he held office for four years. he tried to run for the senate a few years later. he finished third in a four-way primary on the republican side. he could not get the nomination because people were really mad about what he a done to try to bring a better day in virginia. but now he is 92 years old, 93 in september, and people look at what he and his wife -- because his wife was his equal partner
in all of this -- they look at what they did and say, well. that was a guy who had a tough time, had to make a tough call, and he made it the right way. a cityged it from looking backwards. when i am smart, i will follow it. steve: let me ask you about that picture up there. senator kaine: that is a picture that is unique in american history. immigration order came down and he decided we are not fighting it, but we are going to integration, he decided the best way would the his own family -- would be his own family would participate. the governor's mansion is in the center of richmond, but not in a
particular district. he said, if i'm going to say school integration is a good thing, than my kids should go to the neighborhood schools here, which were largely -- almost completely african-american schools, and i should escort them there, and say, look, education is important. kids should be able to sit down together and get an education. that is a picture of my father-in-law and my wife's sister who is the oldest of the four kids walking into kennedy high school on the opening day of school, and it was on the "the new york times." there were a lot of pictures of southern governors blocking the schoolhouse door -- in little rock, colleges like the university of mississippi, trained to keep black kids from coming in sitting next to what kids in school. as far as i know, there's only one picture of a southern governor escorting his daughter into school, basically saying integration is good. and it's not just for other people. us, it's good.
i had a career as a civil rights .awyer for 17, 18 years in my career fighting for civil rights in virginia, largely in the area of housing discrimination -- i did cases all over the state, in the network and my work as a mayor, my work as governor and senator, his example of being a courageous promoter of equality is one i try to take inspiration from. before you are mayor, you served on the city council. how did that prepare you for serving in congress? senator kaine: i think local office is the best training for any office. partisanship was not important. we ran for city council -- i have always been a democrat. i jokingly say i became a democrat the day i realized my parents were republicans. i've always been a democrat. but we were nonpartisan.
it did not make a difference. it was about results. partisanship was not important. words were important. you could say anything. but if people could not see the tangible effects, you could not get reelected. the third thing that was really important was in local office you are accessible. people stop you in the grocery store to talk about an issue. when i was mayor, i once had a woman rear-ended my pickup truck on broad street, and as the policeman was writing her a ticket, and said, mr. mayor, are you ok? she said, did i just run into the mayor? said, yeah.n she said, there is a zoning issue coming up in city hall next year. the accessibility of local office is a trait you get into. government by and for the people. personalp close and review you can make people happier.
partisanship was not important, results were important. accessibility was important. that has been the base of everything i have done impolitic cents. -- in politics since. steve: you served as lieutenant governor. senator kaine: i was not just lieutenant governor. i was lieutenant governor to a longtime friend. mark warner and i met at harvard law school. he was a kid from connecticut and i was a kid from kansas city. we end up in virginia. when heected with him was the chairman of doug wilder's governor campaign in 1969. job of the lieutenant governor is presiding over the state senate. when i got elected lieutenant governor, there were 40 senators . i had one-on-one meetings with every senator to say, what do you expect to see in a preside her, and i just listened.
it proved to be helpful. and you know, virginia is the only state with a one term governor. i know that mark would be ivernor for four years, so learned from him so if i got the chance i would the better at it. mark was governor during tough times, but i was governor during tough times -- the worst economic crisis since the night and 30's, the horrible shooting at virginia tech that occurred when i was governor. of being mayor which was really tough because of public safety issues and watching mark deal with challenging issues, being at mark's right hand prepared me to deal with tough issues when i was governor. april 2007. virginia tech. where were you, what did that tell you about the issue of guns
in virginia and the issue of mental health? when i was on the city council, richmond had the second-highest homicide rate at the start of my time. ahad been elected official in place where i went to too many crime scenes and too many funerals and too many gatherings in church basements to be supportive of them, so i had some scar tissue. tradeleft to go on a mission to japan and india. we had just landed in japan. we had gone to the hotel, check in and got-- checked the notice third been a horrible tragedy. this was midnight took your time. i called back, and my chief of staff told me what was happening. it was still unfolding. i just said, get me back to the airport. we went right back to the
airport. the tragedy was unfolding. 33, 32 people killed, so many more injured. the 33rd death, i flew back super jetlagged. the president helped me and we went and spoke to the tech community the day after the shooting. that began a time of soul-searching where i tried to do two things. first, i tried to be a friend to the families who have lost loved ones. i cannot convey to you the amazing diversity of these families -- 19-year-old kids who had been on campus for seven months and a 75-year-old
engineering professor who survived the holocaust, romanian the holocaust,ed and survive the communist takeover of romania -- they kicked him out of his academic position, oppressed him badly, moved to israel, came to the united states on a one-year teaching fellowship, came to the united states and state, and he blocked the door of his classroom and his students could jump out the window and he was killed. think about that. the guy would survive the holocaust and the communist takeover of romania and being ,ppressed under the communists could not survive gun violence in this country. i learned as i learned as mayor, but in a deeper way that we can do better and we need to do better. so, after the shooting i did two
things. i spent times with the families. i still do. i am still close to a number of the families and their children. but i also determined, i was going to put a panel together. we were putting together a lawsuit to sue the state. we have to do everything we can to make sure what happens to these precious people does not happen again. none of them were connected to the victims, none of them were connected to virginia tech. we made these recommendations back to us. i am sad to say -- the one
change i couldn't make is he got a weapon he should not have been able to get but for a gap in the background record check system. i was able to fix some of that administratively, but i went to my legislature and i said, look. we need universal background checks and we need better background checks. that will not eliminate the chance of violence, but they will make us safer. my legislature would not do it, even in the aftermath of that worst shooting tragedy in the united states. and between my election and swearing into the senate, the horrible shooting in connecticut of the school children and their teachers, and again, i made the ofe on the floor in april 2013. i said, we learned a lesson at blacksburg and now we have learnt the lesson again. we could make ourselves safer. we don't have to tolerate this. we can respect the second amendment. can respect gun
rights. i have a gun. , trying in the senate to enact legislation with the new town families sitting in the gallery like that cloud of witnesses that spoke that that is spoken about in a letter to the hebrews watching us some of because tech families, we voted almost on the anniversary of the virginia tech shooting, the fact that we could not do the right thing, the thing the american public wants us to do was extremely disappointing. i'm not giving up. these tragedies are piling up. we had a journalist killed on live tv last summer by someone who wanted to, you know, get publicity. someone with a horrible mental illness. we have to do a better job in this country. you know, there's a lot of things i want to do in the senate. i work on a lot of issues. i hope we can embrace some common sense strategies that will end the scourge of gun
violence in this country and i will do all i can to make sure we do. as governor you had to deal with 11 executions. you are catholic. how do you deal with public official obligations and your personal faith? senator kaine: yeah, it's really hard. i'm against the death penalty. nations do not have it. i have never been a supporter of the death penalty. when i ran for others, i will tell you, steve -- i ran to be governor of a system where i knew the first thing i would do my hand on a bible and say, i will uphold the law. the law is the death monti can be an ultimate punishment for the most serious crimes if it is upheld by the jury, by a judge, by the court. i really grappled with -- i'm against the death penalty, but i will take an oath to uphold the law. i lived in a society where there
is no law. i knew that was a bad system. i'm i told virginians is against the death penalty, but i will uphold the law. if all of the appeals went through without them being given were givenif they clemency, they would look through the petition, only in the instance of them having a credible claim of innocence or some other claim in their case. very, very difficult. they kept testing me. they tried to expand the death
penalty. i vetoed all of them. i told you, i told you i was against the death penalty. i don't think we need it. we grappled with death penalties, but i only gave relief to people who made the case they were entitled to clemency. it was a painful, painful thing. steve: what do you think is next for you politically? senator kaine: i like being governor. wonderfulme really committees. so that is actually a pretty important connection.
this is so deeply important to our state an important amine. i'm on the foreign relations committee. one out of four virginians is born in another country. and if you live somewhere else or are born somewhere else, you care about the world. budget committee. i do not know why they did not put me on the aging committee. i am up for reelection in 2018, and i am kind of taking john warner as my role model. for years.he senate if you saw something he did not , he said include me out. i am not supporting oliver north for senate. he was courageous. he said my country and commonwealth are more important in my party and this would be the wrong thing for my country and commonwealth.
i kind of used them as examples. i hope to be there for a long time. steve: what serving -- would serving somewhere other than the senate senate give you a bigger platform? senator kaine: i like my job as not lookingd i'm for another one. i am doing a time of work for hillary. i think she will be a superb president. i was one of the earliest supporters of as an obama. still am a friend and some order and think he has done a really good job under tough circumstances. in some ways though, in some ways, i think the existential choice posed for the nation in 2016 is even sharper than 2008. topresident obama had lost senator mccain i would have been bitterly disappointed, but it would not have represented a
fundamental change in the direction of the country. that we have issues on the table like should you bring torture back? should we take the virginia value of freedom of religious worship and turn it on its head and punish people because they are because they are latino? ,hese are big challenging issues, and the choice for the is an existential one and i will do everything i can to help hillary clinton win. virginia is now a battleground state. a poll closing late in ohio, we have a field map and we take care of business at home. we have an ability to play a real role in who the next president will be. >> final question, i wanted to service my running